Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sheriff, Laurence

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SHERIFF, LAURENCE (d. 1567), founder of Rugby school, the son of respectable parents resident in Rugby, appears to have been born in that town, although Brownsover, a village in the neighbourhood, has also been assigned as the place of his birth. He removed to London, where he became a grocer. He lived near Newgate, on the site of what is at present 24 Newgate Street, and was connected with the household of the Princess (afterwards queen) Elizabeth, though possibly only through his trade. He was a staunch adherent of that princess, and when she came to the throne Sheriff was made an esquire and received a grant of arms. He was appointed the second warden of the Grocers' Company of London in 1566, and died on 20 Oct. of the following year. By his will he expressed a desire to be buried at Rugby, but, notwithstanding, he seems to have been interred in the graveyard of Christ Church, Newgate. He had a wife named Elizabeth, who survived him but he left no children. In his will, which was proved at London on 31 Oct. 1568, besides several other bequests to his native town, he left for the foundation and endowment of a school at Rugby the rent of his parsonage and farm at Brownsover, with all his property at Rugby, and one third of his Middlesex estate; together with 50l. for building purposes, and 100l. to be invested in land for the site of the school, and to provide for the maintenance of its headmaster, and the building of four almshouses. The school seems to have been founded immediately after Sheriff's death, but it was deprived of the revenues of the Middlesex property until 1614 by the fraudulent conduct of one of Sheriff's trustees. The school did not obtain full possession of the Brownsover estate until 1653, from which time the rapid increase in the value of the endowment assured its prosperity.

[Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, p. 683; Goulburn's Book of Rugby School, p. 3; Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, i. 118, 127; Carlisle's Grammar Schools, ii. 662; Nicolas's Hist. of Rugby, p. 89; Hist. of the Public Schools, Rugby, p. 4; Foxe's Actes and Monuments, iii. 951, ed. 1641.]

E. I. C.